Scott Styris and Shane Bond were the unlikely heroes for New Zealand as they won a tense opening Chappell-Hadlee one-day international against Australia by two wickets in Napier yesterday.
Chasing 275 for eight, the pair got the Black Caps across the line after Ross Taylor's 70 had built on the good start by Brendon McCullum (45) and Peter Ingram (40).
Styris, who finished on 49 not out off just 34 balls, smacked a six off Doug Bollinger in the final over to lift the Black Caps to 281 for eight to seal the victory with four balls remaining.
The all-rounder was a late inclusion in the starting line-up after captain Daniel Vettori was ruled out with a neck injury which saw Taylor assume the captaincy.
Bond (11 not out) played his part too, hitting two crucial boundaries off Shane Watson to level the scores with an over to go.
He also enjoyed success with the ball taking two for 50 from his 10 overs, including the key wicket of Michael Hussey.
But it was not all good news for New Zealand as all-rounder Jacob Oram suffered a knee injury while fielding and had to be helped from the field midway through Australia's innings and took no further part in proceedings.
In many ways the two sides' innings were very similar as Watson (45) got Australia off to a blistering start against the Kiwis before the Australians were pegged back by some tight bowling from the New Zealand side and kept below the 300-run mark on a pitch expected to be full of runs.
It took a run-a-ball 59 from Hussey late in the innings and 33 runs each from Cameron White and James Hopes to get a competitive total on the board.
New Zealand also lost key wickets at vital times and the dismissal of Taylor in the 39th over left the match in the balance.
But Styris and Bond stood firm to earn the hosts a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
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